Worshipping the wrong heroes

G. Gordon Liddy. A lifetime cheater who claimed a higher ground.

The Chicago Tribune carried a news story about the death at age 90 of G. Gordon Liddy, the well-known mastermind of the Watergate burglary that led to scandal and the resignation of President Richard M. Nixon.

Liddy said of his actions, “I’m proud of the fact that I am the guy who did not talk.”

That sort of “loyalty” leads to all kinds of misery in this world. The Tribune article contained this interesting observation. “Born in Hoboken, N.J., George Gordon Battle Liddy was a frail boy who grew up in a neighborhood populated mostly by German-Americans. From friends and a maid who was a German national, Liddy developed a curiosity about German leader Adolf Hitler and was inspired by listening to Hitler’s radio speeches in the 1930s.’

As we all know, followers of Hitler were famous for ‘not talking’ even as the regime carried through on plans for a Holocaust taking the lives of millions of people. All while Hitler claimed to be aiming the nation toward a “higher ground.”

But Liddy liked Hitler because he felt kinship with the man’s journey from frailty to power.

“If an entire nation could be changed, lifted out of weakness to extraordinary strength, so could one person,” Liddy wrote in “Will,” his autobiography. Liddy decided it was critical to face his fears and overcome them. At age 11, Liddy roasted a rat and ate it to overcome his fear of rats. “From now on, rats could fear me as they feared cats,” he wrote.

That instinct for payback against the world seems to have driven Liddy to extremes in ideology that bordered on manic. “While recruiting a woman to help carry out one of his schemes, Liddy tried to convince her that no one could force him to reveal her identity or anything else against his will. To convince her, Liddy held his hand over a flaming cigarette lighter. His hand was badly burned. The woman turned down the job.”

That refusal to join Liddy’s team was an indication of sanity. No completely rational person behaves as Liddy did in that or any other circumstance.

Manic charisma

Liddy’s crazed brand of commitment to cause and manic charisma grew a great following among conservatives as he became a popular media personality. “Liddy learned to market his reputation as a fearless, if sometimes overzealous, advocate of conservative causes. Liddy’s syndicated radio talk show, broadcast from Virginia-based WJFK, was long one of the most popular in the country. He wrote best-selling books, acted in TV shows like “Miami Vice,” was a frequent guest lecturer on college campuses, started a private eye franchise and worked as a security consultant. For a time, he teamed on the lecture circuit with an unlikely partner, 1960s LSD guru Timothy Leary.”

Liddy never hid even his most dire intentions, even illegal motives: “Liddy became known for such offbeat suggestions as kidnapping war protest organizers and taking them to Mexico during the Republican National Convention; assassinating investigative journalist Jack Anderson; and firebombing the Brookings Institution, a left-leaning think tank in Washington where classified documents leaked by Ellsberg were being stored.”

History shows that Liddy worked to subvert the legitimate dealings of government on behalf of Nixon. After serving time for his crimes, he decide to plant roots of public distrust in the government and even law enforcement agents. “In the mid-1990s, Liddy told gun-toting radio listeners to aim for the head when encountered by agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. “Head shots, head shots,” he stressed, explaining that most agents wear bullet-resistant vests under their jackets. Liddy said later he wasn’t encouraging people to hunt agents, but added that if an agent comes at someone with deadly force, “you should defend yourself and your rights with deadly force.”

It is no wonder that an America fed such rhetoric for so long grew immune to the use of high-powered, cop-killing weapons such as AR-15s when men like Liddy were spouting anti-government rhetoric over the decades. Liddy normalized such violence in the minds of millions of people. He made them believe that violence equals patriotism and freedom.

Fascist roots and violent instincts

Liddy’s autocratic attitude and fascist roots fueled his violent instincts. These he spilled into the American dialogue without remorse or responsibility. We can draw a straight line from Liddy’s unhinged rhetoric to the brute nature of Trumpism and the insurrection at the Capitol driven by domestic terrorists, white supremacists and stark-raving nationalists claiming.the higher ground even while they devastated law officers charged with protecting the elected official inside.

One can easily imagine G. Gordon Liddy masterminding such a coup, just as he tried to do way back in the 1970s.Trump preached to his followers in advance of his attempted sedition, “Come to DC. It will be wild!”

Trump’s level of corruption exceeded even President Ronald Reagan’s administration, one of the most corrupt in history with a pile of indictments and convictions left behind. The leading contender for Most Corrupt was Colonel Oliver North, who engineered the Iran-Contra affair and then went on to preach in mega-churches that he’s always been on God’s side.

Generations of lies

The liar in chief Donald Trump made a career exploiting cognitive dissonance in his followers.

A significant portion of America has spent several generations worshipping the wrong kind of heroes. That political bulwark Pat Buchanan claims this backwards philosophy of elevating criminals and corrupt bigots to top-level posts is pointing the country in the right direction. In a column titled “Trump–Once and Future Kind,” he praises the ex-president for his supposed success in economic terms. “Trump succeeded in enacting the traditional GOP platform of low taxes and deregulation, producing record-low unemployment — before the pandemic hit”

But Buchanan exhibits cognitive dissonance in his failure to even mention how Trump instantly spoiled economic prospects by selfishly denying the portent of the pandemic because he feared any deleterious effects to the economy. The result was a pandemic that spilled out of control, resulting in the need for economic lockdowns at the state level to assist overwhelmed healthcare systems. Trump’s lack of vision and stubborn claim that the pandemic was not a threat––despite his own admission to Bob Woodward that it was––directly caused the downfall of his supposed plans for prosperity. Trump has no one to blame but himself for his failure as a President.

Yet Trump speciously claimed the election itself was fraudulent because he could not imagine that so many would show up to vote against his despotic lies and political deceptions.

Blame Bush and Cheney, if anyone

Trump liked to blame all of America’s problems on President Barack Obama. But actually, the endless wars and drain on the economy caused by the economic recession under Bush took every effort by Obama to reconcile. He was largely a success at that, and won a second term despite constant Republican obfuscation.

Obama could not cure all of Bush’s mess because the GOP never admitted they were the primary cause. The feckless administrative style of George Bush depended on the direction of Dick Cheney, mastermind of the doctrine that led our country into the war in Iraq under false and badly miscalculated pretenses. That cost the country $7T in Iraq alone, all while torturing and killing its residents in the supposed name of peace. That war was America’s greatest failure, worse in many respects than the Vietnam debacle fifty years before.

All this misguided saber-rattling impoverishes the nation yearly, with a military so bloated by waste that a recent investigation into its accounting procedures resulted in a “no-contest” from the accountants hired to do the job. “We can’t even begin to figure out where the money goes,” was the summary issued, and I paraphrase, but that’s the outcome.

It all comes back to the toxic misappropriation of honesty and truth by men like G. Gordon Liddy, Oliver North, Dick Cheney and Donald Trump. They are all men raised to believe in themselves as a higher power unto itself. Those who believe in them are worshipping the wrong kind of heroes.

Here’s proof that 1st-graders know more about truth than Trump supporters

I’ve always loved teaching. I have a chance these days as a substitute working at all grade levels for several local school districts. Yesterday I taught language arts for first-grade class studying story structure. We reviewed material about the text features including Headings, Diagrams, Labels, Sub-heading, Bold Text, Illustration, Captions and Italic text.

These elements of a document are familiar to everyone consuming content on the Internet. That’s where the vast majority of people now gather information these days.

While the elements of a document or article are important to recognize, it is just as important to understand the components of a story in order to grasp its full significance. These include Characters, Setting, Plot, Conflict, and Resolution.

The five elements of a story.

Finally, it is particularly valuable to understand what type of material you are reading. Is it a news story or commentary? Hard news or Opinion? But most of all, is it fiction or non-fiction?

Sometimes it is difficult to determine whether certain types of information are fictional or not. The word “fiction” means something invented by the imagination or feigned, also known as “fake.” That is the term often used by politicians who don’t want you to believe the truth behind information they don’t like.

The challenging aspect of sorting truth from fiction is that some of the world’s greatest truths are found in fictional works. Often the reason a work of fiction is considered great is its compelling relationship to realities of many kinds.

Some of the most compelling forms of fiction willingly blur the lines between fact and fiction. American author Carlos Castaneda wrote a series of books about shamanism that lure readers into a world where the “crack between the worlds” is opened and revealed. As described on Wikepedia, “The books, narrated in the first person, relate his experiences under the tutelage of a man that Castaneda claimed was a Yaqui “Man of Knowledge” named don Juan Matus. His 12 books have sold more than 28 million copies in 17 languages. They have been found to be fiction, but supporters claim the books are either true or at least valuable works of philosophy.”

Revelations

That last sentence describes the power and influence of a charismatic personality or a compelling story. Being pulled into that sphere can make a person feel as if a great truth is being revealed. With that degree of revelation at hand, it is difficult to convince people that their seeming grasp on the truth is, fortunately or unfortunately, a work of fiction. This is particularly true when people feel as if they’ve been gifted with a particular brand of truth, especially that which contradicts the status quo or appears to give them insight on an important conspiracy or key to some sort of power.

Such is the case with conspiracy theories in the modern era. From the nightly talking points pumped out by Fox News to the QAnon crowd looking for clues to the overthrow government officials they suspect of sex-trafficking and cannibalism, the lines between fact and fiction are not just blurred, they are willingly and ardently confused and conflated.

The practice of blurring fact and fiction is not uncommon in history of many kinds. The Christian religion is quite adept at creating narratives that serve its purposes yet aren’t supported by fact. From the persecution of Copernicus and Galileo to the invention of purgatory to drive the collection of indulgences and line the pockets of the church, Christianity has long smeared the lines between fact and fiction. That holds true from the creationist take on Genesis to End Times theorists predicting the end of the world based on the Book of Revelations and other texts.

Owning the narrative is the purpose of blurring fact and fiction. If your claim to truth is based solely on a singular interpretation of a story about which you claim to hold the absolute key, then it is hard for anyone to challenge that authority. Such claims to absolute truth are typically based on a tautology, “a statement that is true by necessity or by virtue of its logical form.” Otherwise known as a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Fact and fiction

A typical class of first-graders is rife with smiles and enthusiasm

If we sit down with a class of first-graders that have been taught the difference between fact and fiction, as I recently did, I believe it is unlikely those kids will be fooled by the tactics of purposeful lies common to the adult world. It’s not that they think they own greater insights about absolute truth than adults. They just aren’t schooled in the art of self-deception and are not so eager to see conspiracy where none exists. They can tell the difference between fact and fiction because they aren’t interested in blurring the lines for purposes of self-confirmation and self-interest.

It’s quite obvious that a class full of first-graders knows more about truth than an entire nation of Trump supporters and the Republican Senate who refused to hold their “teacher” responsible for the long list of lies he’s been telling since he was born. That faction prefers the fiction that grants them power, and couldn’t care less if future generations have to suffer for it or not.

The difference between being fooled by Trump and being a fool for Trump

The Baby Trump balloon flew over Great Britain when Trump visited that nation.

I keep reading comments in news stories and on social media stating that many of the 74 million people who voted for Trump are either “good people” or “smart people.” That may be true. Over the last four years a number of people that I’ve known for a long time came out in favor of Donald Trump. Some of those people are devout Christians. Others are avowed conservatives. Still others voted Republican all their lives and were not keen on Hillary and certainly were not excited about voting for Joe Biden.

But without exception, all of these good and smart people were somehow fooled about who Trump was, and who he turned out to be. Some of these folks recoiled upon seeing Trump supporters swarm the Capitol. Then came news that Capitol guards were killed. Others were injured or had their lives threatened by the unruly mob chanting, among many slogans, “Hang Mike Pence!”

The anger driving the mob was a direct result of Donald Trump’s persistent claims that the 2020 election was stolen. That led to slogans such as “Stop the Steal” and when Trump spoke before the crowds in Washington, D.C., he exhorted them to take action “Because you will never take back our country with weakness.”

So at that urging, the mob stormed the Capitol. Those people were fools for Trump.

Millions deceived

That’s the difference right there. Millions of people were deceived into thinking Donald Trump would be an effective President. Some point to his “policies” as successful, a defense copied and pasted in social media memes as a defense of Trump’s supposedly positive action as President. The list of supposed successes includes a laundry list such as tax cuts (which clearly benefitted the richest Americans) the Middle East Deal (which cut Palestinians out of the picture) and a few Republican-ish items on the Wish List of discrimination such as overhauling immigration policy (resulting in nearly 6000 children separated from their families) and building the wall (a massive debacle with funds appropriated from military budgets to construct barriers through environmentally sensitive areas and Native American sacred places.)

Then there is the pandemic to consider. Within a week––and well under a year’s time––400,000 Americans will have died from the Coronavirus / Covid-19. From the outset of the threat, Trump denied it as a threat even as he admitted (that’s evidence) to reporter Bob Woodward that he knew things were going to get really bad. Trump played it down and his followers were fooled by his words. The pandemic denial made fools of us all. Now hundreds of thousands of our friends and neighbors are dead and millions are infected with potential side effects lasting years or permanently affecting hearts and lungs.

Trump’a denial was necessary in his mind because he was so afraid of not getting elected he feared any disturbance to the fragile economy over which he presided. Ironically, it was his own lies that crushed commerce and led to millions of people cast out of their jobs. The economy tanked due to Trump’s selfish instincts. We’ve all been left clinging to vestiges of normalcy while states and cities and medical facilities at every scale struggle to keep up with infection rates. All because our federal response was either denied, uncoordinated or non-existent. Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner fooled around in the background trying to patch together some sort of “free-market” response, but the disease didn’t wait around for ideology to catch up with reality. People were dying, and there was no plan in place to stop it. That’s still true.

Then there’s the Trumpian deception over the election that led to an insurrection. How is America supposed to deal with that?

A justified response

The Chicago Tribune headline the day after the January 6, 2021 insurrection.

On January 18, 2021, in the wake of Congress’ impeachment of the President, the Chicago Tribune published an editorial by Liz Peek, a writer for RealClearPolitics. She claimed that the move to impeach Trump was both rushed and unjustified. I wrote a response and sent it to the Tribune, where my letters appear with relative frequency.

The text is here:

“Columnist Liz Peek attempts to show that the impeachment of President Donald Trump is rushed and not entirely justified. She fails to mention that well in advance of the 2016 election, during a debate with Secretary Hillary Clinton, candidate Trump refused to state that he would respect the results of the election, win or lose. This man has never respected the rule of law or the democratic process. He has repeatedly broken the nation’s laws governing his conduct in office, and most recently led an insurrection to overturn the results of a fair and free election. This second impeachment is no rush to judgment. It is a statement that a man such as Donald Trump has no place in public office, especially the presidency, and his supporters need to understand that loud and clear. The Senate failed in its duty to convict Trump the first time around, breaking its oath to conduct a full trial. That should not happen this time around. The outgoing President deserves punishment for his prolonged assault on our nation, a practice evidenced even in the policies implemented under his watch, which rewarded only the rich, gutted agencies designed to serve the American people and protect the environment, and left hundreds of thousands of people to die due to his lies about the threat of the pandemic. Those who innocently supported Trump were fooled, but those who continue to support him are abject fools.”

Millions of people invented reasons to vote for Trump and support him during his presidency. This devotion required considerable suspension of disbelief. Well, Americans are really good at that practice. Look at all those intergalactic shows and movies where people walk around spaceships as if gravity follows them around, or flit from planet to planet and galaxy to galaxy where oxygen happens to be everywhere and the main characters speak the same language. The world thrives on this brand of disconnection from reality and America has thus survived four years on Planet Trump. The Grand Illusion serves the President well. He lies with the worst of them, yet people believe in him. Even Christians tossed aside their core beliefs to buy Trump’s replacement for their faith. They chose access to power instead. It’s a familiar story really. The entire Star Wars enterprise is based on the same premise.

A striking reversal of resemblance?

That is why it is time to send Trump into an orbit of his own making. He deserves to face penalty for the fraud and graft he’s depended upon for years. Like Emperor Palpatine, he brought the same corrupt and power-brokering tactics to the office of President. People were fooled into believing that Trump’s supposed business acumen was real, like some kind of “force” that could solve America’s problems with the wave of a Trumpian hand. Never mind that Trump University was fined $25M for fraud, or that his dalliances with porn stars were well-documented? What does that have to do with character or anything Donald Trump is doing as President?

Trump’s supporters promised “so much winning.” Instead, the nation got hit repeatedly with the back of his selfish hand, all while being admonished for not loving him enough. America was subjected to the worst kind of abusive relationship where the gaslighting abuser takes his minions for fools and demands that all those under his charge submit to abuse as a sign of love. Trump used and disabused members of his cabinet, his personal and public lawyers, and anyone that crossed him. All were hit with abuse during Trump’s fits of rage and disavowal.

And still his supporters came crawling back for more. Trump willingly exploited their adoring submission, then turned it into a populist coup, an insurrection, and the final act of his abusive claim on power. He convinced those people to act like fools for him. It’s time to impeach Trump and show the fools and the foolish among us that there is a cost to believing in falsehood and lies.

Only then can the nation begin to heal from this foolishness.

Trump and his supporters refuse to understand: It’s his own fault

The riots and attack on the US government at the United States Capitol building are proving one thing: America really does need to be concerned about the rise of fascism in this nation.

All summer long during protests against the murder of Black citizens by police were conducted by Black Lives Matter and other social conscience groups. Some of those protests were marked by looting that harmed businesses. That was enough for Trump and his supporters to claim the two responses to police brutality were automatically related.

Other nations

The peaceful interior of the Segrada Familia basilica and Barcelona Spain in fact is a form of protest against the legalistic strictures of the Catholic Church as its architect Antonio Gaudi drew on the organic source of all creation to depict God’s glory inside a cathedral and outside on its structure. Photo by Christopher Cudworth in Barcelona, Spain in 2019.

We can turn to the nation of Spain for perspective on the relationship between protests for social justice and independence. I happened to be in Barcelona on a vacation in 2019 during the weekend when originally peaceful protests turned ugly. The issue in Spain was a call for “self-determination” by citizens of the Catalaonian region. They sought independence from the central government in Spain over issues of taxation. Catalan residents sought to secede from Spain. Right-wing defendants of Spain’s traditional national structure and constitution sought to crack down on the protests.

That’s when things turned sour in Barcelona. As reported on Reuters.com, “Barcelona town hall said 400 garbage containers were set ablaze on Wednesday and estimated that the city had suffered damage totaling more than 1 million euros ($1.1 million) in two days. Some city residents condemned the rioting. “This doesn’t represent the majority of Catalans, whichever side they are on, be they pro-constitution or pro-independence,” said Joan, a 50-year-old small-business owner.

The political issues in Spain differ from those in America, yet the cycles of protest and governmental crackdowns and pursuant violence on the part of “protestors” is quite similar to patterns in the United States.

As Reuters reported, “Young people draped in Catalan flags congregated peacefully, tossing balls and skipping rope. Later the mood turned ugly, with protesters setting fire to cafe chairs on the fashionable Rambla de Catalunya street at the heart of the tourist district.

Earlier in the day, thousands of students took to the streets, some hurling eggs at police holding riot shields. Marches from around the region are due to converge on Barcelona on Friday and unions have called a general strike for the day.

“It’s not about who is a separatist and who is not – it’s about human rights,” said Aila, a student who declined to give her family name.”

Black Lives Matter and Antifa

That sounds so familiar. Here in America, hundreds of thousands of protestors also sought to stand up for human rights. Their cause was calling attention to the series of Black people shot or suffocated by police. The incident with George Floyd in which an officer put a knee on the man’s neck until he died went viral and served to illuminate the cause of minorities around the world.

But Trump and his supporters appeared unmoved by the calls for change, and protests escalated as a result. Property damage was rampant, and a loosely organized group calling itself Antifa rose to national prominence as Trump sought to place blame for the violence on an enemy he target for derision by his supporters. That meant Trump lumped everyone together in one supposedly “evil” group that he blamed for property damage. But the people seeking social justice weren’t willing to live with that accusation. They persisted in peaceful protests. I witnessed the “rebound effect” of peaceful protestors while visiting Madison, Wisconsin this summer following weeks of unrest. The boarded up businesses were decorated with messages of love and reminders of why the protests were initiated in the first place. That may have been no comfort to businesses affected by the lockdowns, but that effect was not solely the result of protests. There was the scourge of Coronavirus that Trump refused to address. That incalcitrance toward any authority other than his own was the cause of more suffering in the United States than any protest, Antifa or not, could muster. That’s the reality Trump sought to avoid.

A Black Lives Matter sign painted on boarded up property in Madison, Wisconsin during the protests of summer 2020. Photo by Christopher Cudworth

The problem with the Trump tactic is that was successful with his supporters and his Republican allies eager to shift blame away from the President by siding with him in the depiction of all protestors as the “common enemy.” That means the original cause of the social justice protestors––justice for Black citizens and change in brutal police tactics––was effectively left behind. That is exactly how Trump likes it. His entire tactic in politics is to distract from the bad things he’s done and/or approved by redirecting blame toward anyone he depicts as the “common enemy.” In that regard, he has quite familiar company in history.

The concept of propaganda

Consider this excerpt from the Nuremberg 1934 rally, in which Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels outlines the premise and purpose of propaganda:

“The concept of propaganda has undergone a fundamental transformation, particularly as the result of political practice in Germany. Throughout the world today, people are beginning to see that a modern state, whether democratic or authoritarian, cannot withstand the subterranean forces of anarchy and chaos without propaganda. It is not only a matter of doing the right thing; the people must understand that the right thing is the right thing. Propaganda includes everything that helps the people to realize this.”

He goes on to state, “Propaganda is a means to an end. Its purpose is to lead the people to an understanding that will allow it to willingly and without internal resistance devote itself to the tasks and goals of a superior leadership. If propaganda is to succeed, it must know what it wants. It must keep a clear and firm goal in mind, and seek the appropriate means and methods to reach that goal. Propaganda as such is neither good nor evil. Its moral value is determined by the goals it seeks.”

Trump propaganda

In the case of Donald Trump, that “purpose” in mind is keeping power at all costs. That aligns with his central goal of self-interest. His policies fulfill promises to others that can help him keep power. But his actions aside from that are all about winning and protecting access to power.

The incalcitrant dictator is most at home when his frequent misdeeds are kept in the dark.

That explains his lies to cover up the threat of the pandemic in its early stages. His central goal in presenting information about the Coronavirus was to protect his image going into the 2020 election. To do that, he sought to downplay the seriousness of the virus and how many people it could possible kill. His interest was in protecting the economy upon which he believed his re-election depended. Yet his selfishness backfired as the virus raged through the American population, threatening to overwhelm hospitals as thousands died from Covid-19. The economy reeled. He raged against the lockdowns proclaimed by state governors as necessary to curb the spread of the disease.

That was Trump’s version of a “protest.” Yet it was his original inaction and refusal to engage the federal government in meaningful distribution of PPE and support for state efforts to conduct testing and reduce infection rates that led to the United States becoming the nation whose citizens were banned from traveling to countries around the world. Trump cynically and ignorantly blamed “testing” as the reason why the infection rates were so high. “If we didn’t do so much testing, there wouldn’t be so many infections,” seemed to be his reasoning.

The confusing mix of disease and outrage

So the summer months were a confusing mix of disease and outrage as American citizens endured the uncontrolled spread of Coronavirus even as Trump refused to wear a mask in public and an entire ‘protest’ movement of Anti-Maskers sprung up within his movement. They claimed that wearing masks infringed on their personal freedoms. Men like noted conservative and former presidential candidate Herman Cain refused to wear a mask in public. He contracted Covid-19 and died as a result.

That incident describes the twisted reasoning and dangers of Trumpism.

In the same way, it was Trump sending out federal troops in a fascist show of strength in Portland and other cities that led to increased resistance and more radicalized response in cities across the country. The Trump administration resorted to posting unidentified, heavily armed guards in Washington, D.C. in one of the most fascist demonstrations of governmental secrecy in American history. No one knew who those guards reported to, or what their purpose was other than to serve as a threat that the right to protest at all was under threat.

Then Trump marched across the street in the company of military personnel while flash-bangs and other deterrence methods were aimed at peaceful protestors gathered around a church in Washington. Trump held up a Bible (upside down, it appears) in clear demonstration of the religio-fascist relationship he maintains with zealously bigoted evangelicals calling for outright theocracy in American government.

Trump supporters long to point toward his “policies” as signs of his success the last four years. But even the supposed lists of accomplishments now circulating in defensive memes are rife with contradictions. His supposed Mideast accords are little more than disguised acts of Zionism and anti-Palestinian intrigue. Trump’s forceful collapse of the Iran nuclear control deal is enabling the re-establishment of that nation’s programs. HIs tax cuts did nothing for the middle class while enriching the wealthiest Americans, and his inaction on Coronavirus crushed millions of jobs while Republican Senators and Congressman fought significant relief bills to help everyday Americans. If one were to draft a program to make American lives worse rather than better, there is none better than the lack of platform resolved by the Republican Party and the sycophantic support they’ve granted their Fascist in Chief. The GOP, as I’ve previously written, simply got pimped.

Fascist takeover

This arc toward fascist takeover of American society was not lost on Trump supporters whose beliefs about American justice were formed and fomented by propaganda spouted by Trump well before the 2020 election even took place. Upon losing, Trump declared the results “fraudulent” and proceeded to carry out 60 fraudulent lawsuits that were in turn rejected by courts on the basis of no evidence to support them.

None of that stopped Trump or his fascist henchman Rudy Giuliani from continuing their attack on democratic processes. Right up to the certification of the Electoral College votes, Trump and Rudy G collared Republican Congressman, Senators, state governors and even election officials. They issued dictates and threats. When all this continued to fail, Trump called his supporters into action in Washington. He directed them to march on the Capitol in hopes that the disruption would delay or cancel the counting of Electoral College votes altogether.

The riotous mob did invade and seek to destroy the Capitol building and its occupants. They came armed with ties in hopes of kidnapping the Vice President or the Speaker of the House. Anyone they regarded as “treasonous” was a potential target. Even those tasked with defending the safety of the Capitol building were subject to fascist fury. A Capitol guard was slaughtered by “protestors” using a fire extinguisher to pound the life out of him.

It’s his own fault, not ours

The bellicose grandiosity of Donald Trump is coming back at him with a vengeance.

All of this is inescapably the fault of “President” Donald Trump, whose impeachment for attempts to corrupt the 2020 election were both justified and accurate. So was the Article of Impeachment about obstruction of justice, an action that Trump has taken multiple times and in multiple ways during his administration, all while crying out that he is the victim of a “witch hunt.”

But the witch hunt that sprung into life on January 6 was one driven by those who support Trump, and no one else. It bears echoes of the witch hunt conducted by Michigan Trump supporters who first stormed that state’s Capitol building, then conspired to kidnap the state governor.

The witch hunt also burst into murderous flames in Kenosha, Wisconsin, where a young kid inflamed by propagandistic rhetoric about the actions of Antifa, and not the cause of their concerns, shot several people to death in what his supporters immediately claimed as an act of “self-defense.”

It won’t be long before Trump makes the same claim for himself, that his supporters were acting in on his behalf, as an act of “self-defense” against the supposedly fraudulent results of the election. That is the Big Lie upon which all of Trumpism now depends. It is one Trump originated even before the 2016 election took place. It is a lie he will likely repeat until his is in his grave. He simply can’t accept the reality that Antifa exists in direct relationship to his fascist persona and the actions it has begotten.

That is the ultimate irony in all of this. Trump supporters refuse to understand that Donald Trump brought this upon America, and upon himself.

UNITED STATES – NOVEMBER 19: Rudolph Giuliani, attorney for President Donald Trump, conducts a news conference at the Republican National Committee, on lawsuits regarding the outcome of the 2020 presidential election on Thursday, November 19, 2020. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

A day after the insurrection

For much of the Trump regime’s term in office, his supporters claimed that it was his “policies” that earned their devotion. In the wake of yesterday’s final demonstration of his priorities, we now know that Trump was lying all along. His goal was never to Make America Great Again. It was to gain and hold power to do as he wishes, without a plan, accountability or consideration of the consequences. His motives were always makeup-thin and disguised under a political combover of claimed victimhood supported by mob rule.

The cover of the Chicago Tribune on January 7, 2021

Those who saw through Trump from the start were forced to endure accusations that we were #nevertrumpers. The term was originally meant to be an insult. Now it sounds like the best compliment anyone could give you.

We were also accused of having Trump Derangement Syndrome (#TDS by Twitter standards). But the visage of a deranged president telling a mob to descend on the Capitol proves where true derangement lies. It is with Trump, and all who follow him.

The President of the United States during a speech in which he instructed followers to attack the Capitol.

The people who “broke through” barriers and police lines around the Capitol building were pleasantly surprised how easy it was to attack democracy at its heart. They wandered around the halls and ransacked offices. Some walked off with souvenirs as if they owned the place. That’s what they have been told to believe by Donald Trump, that they own America.

One of the mobsters on patrol posed with his feet up on Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s desk. The arrogance and hate and misogyny of that single act, along with the theft of her nameplate from the office, constitutes an act of political rape. Like Trump, his followers think any brand of rape is funny as long as there are enough people around to laugh along with you. “You just grab them by the pussy…” Trump once bragged.

He thinks he owns the place.

We were also treated to the sight of people toting the Confederate Flag around inside the United States Capitol building. That act alone is a brand of sedition, insurrection and criminal trespassing. That man should have been arrested on the spot. He’s holding a symbol of insurrection.

The mob participant carrying a Confederate flag inside the United States Capitol building.

We fought a Civil War a little more than one hundred years ago to defeat that flag. The Confederacy had seceded from the Union ostensibly over the autonomous right of states to conduct their own business. That included slavery at the time. A bloody war was fought to rid the nation of slavery and reunite with states that walked away from the greater concept of a nation built around equality, not a brand of raw commerce that abused human rights. Trump has revealed that a significant number of Americans do not accept unity, equal rights or fair treatment of immigrants, people seeking asylum or even children born here in America who want to stay.

Instead, we find so-called Americans toting around the flag that stood for slavery, torture, abuse, and racism. That is deplorable. But that’s not even the point. The embrace of thin-skinned Confederate mentality by the MAGA crowd is not even the most horrific part of the Trump presidency.

The worst part in all of this is that 74 million people believe that Trump is right about America. They’ve absorbed his angry greed and allowed it to infect their souls and even convert their religion to a defense of his selfish need for adoration. What Trump stands for is not communal good. It is selfish complaint and cries of victimhood whenever you don’t get what you want. 74 million people think that brand of political leadership is just great. They believe so strongly that they assembled in Washington and breached the Capitol by breaking out windows, threatening police and forcing legislators to endure a siege that symbolizes everything that’s wrong with Trumpism, and America. All because they claim the election was “stolen” from them. The perversely spoiled and childlike lack of discipline in those contentions is indicative of a psychosis wrought by propaganda, gaslighting and raw dishonesty.

People still buy it because conspiracy theories sound convincing and a secret source of “information” called QAnon convinces repressed church ladies and Proud Boys and televangelists preachers they have something to fight for because pedophiles are taking over the world, or whatever. If there is evil to be fought, America long-ago proved it is up to the task in situations such as World War II. But let’s not forget that Black Americans who served in that war came home to Jim Crow laws and the same old racial discrimination they’d left behind.

It took decades of struggle and the non-violent work of leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to make civil rights gains. Trump came along and encouraged people who fear those changes to flaunt white supremacy and the xenophobia and nationalism that comes along with it. Those “policies” where architected by a Trump staffer named Stephen Miller, who contrived all sorts of hateful strategies to appeal to Trump’s dog-whistle brand of populism. That’s why people felt justified in storming the Capitol yesterday. They felt like their “newly won” rights to discriminate and subjugate were being taken away again. Their claim that the election was “stolen” and the attempt to prevent Joe Biden from being certified as President is the direct outcome of Trump’s personal and professional record of racism and ugly landlord psychology.

Attacking the Capitol. Trump supporters. Egged on by the President.

The symbolism of their acts at the Capitol proves that for some people, the lessons of American history including hard-fought progress in civil rights legislation, environmental protection and financial regulation mean nothing even when all three of those things serve to protect the livelihoods and health of average working Americans. They’d rather trust that a slogan such as Make America Great Again covers their petty grievances and their fears about minorities having too much say in society, about gay people getting married, and about women having access to birth control and a legal right to end a pregnancy somehow threaten their “rights” to exist in America.

Trump appealed to that brand of victimhood with a sickeningly effective approach, conducting firebrand rallies where his manner of speech oozed empathy for the supposed cause of those waving Trump flags and wearing red MAGA hats while he lied to them about everything he promised to do, including keeping Americans safe from the threat of a dangerous pandemic.

Meanwhile Trump played golf 308 times during his four years in office, costing taxpayers millions of dollars. That’s basically a full year of time spent on the golf course rather than serving the people of America. He did all that despite publicly criticizing President Obama for golfing while claiming during his campaign that “I’ll be too busy working to play golf.”

The lies of Trump have stacked up like political cordwood. Trump’s obvious plan was to set fire to them all after a political coup in which he assumed absolute power and could destroy even public records from his corrupt first term in office. If he won again, who would dare stop him?

The next thirteen days in the United States of America will be a test of character like we’ve never seen before. Clearly the MAGA crowd and conspiracy theorists saw no wrongdoing in the mob riot yesterday. Some fecklessly tried to write it off to Antifa in disguise.

An example of Trump’s ugly “policies” that amount to abuse and consumption.

But we know the faces of the instigators. We saw that Confederate flag holder and know the identity of that man sitting at Pelosi’s desk.

Most of all, we know who started all this, and how we have to end it. Trump has been voted out of office and disgraced by his actions since the election. Leading up to yesterday’s insurrection, Trump lied and cajoled, even making phone calls to encourage vote fraud to earn him a victory in Georgia.

For these actions, he should be impeached or prosecuted and banned from ever holding public office of any kind, ever again. His civil and financial crimes should be investigated and publicized in full. His corrupt legacy should be cleansed from the United States government and his perverse version of religious fraud, political deception and conspiracy-based power should be confronted with the greatest force possible, which is truth.

It’s time to flush the falsehoods

You know that feeling when you finish your business and the toilet backs up? For a moment, you stare at the rising water hoping it doesn’t crest the top of the bowl and spill all over the floor.

That’s what it feels like in America right now. The business of the 2020 election is over and yet there is something clogging up the system. Paperwork, mostly. Fake legal briefs and shit-stained claims being made by the President of the United States.

Our legal system and state governments have pressed the handle fifty-plus times and the shit Trump dumped into the election bowl still won’t go down.

We’ve all been faced with situations like this at home. Go fetch the plunger. Assess the risk of how much water might splash over the rim. Set the plunger deep and cover the hole at the bottom of the bowl. Give a few firm plunges with the rubber cup and hope to hell the brown water starts to recede and life in the toilet bowl can get back to order.

But sometimes, the shit still refuses to go down. Something’s backed up in there. So you try again. And again. In a worst case scenario, it might take a plumber to clear things out. That’s what the Supreme Court just tried to do. With a 9-0 vote they told Donald Trump they didn’t want to deal with any more of his shit. Yet still he sits and sulks. Shits and sulks. He’s pretty regular about that.

Trump keeps on dumping more shit in the Election Bowl 2020. To make matters worse, he’s gaslighting America by claiming it was election “dumps” of ballots that led to him losing in the worst way possible. He tanked in both the Popular Vote and the Electoral College.

Now he’s Rage Tweeting from his own toilet and refuses to come out and actually do his job on a daily basis. The stench of fascism and confederate instincts are rising from the sewage backing up through the Republican Pipeline as well. It might take more than a plumber to flush out this shit before we’re all through.

It might take one of those big-ass Vactor trucks with 4800 psi that you see working the public sewers now and then. Plug one of those babies into the White House septic system and give it a good blast. We might see Trump rise up from the roof on a geyser of his own wasteful attempts at overturning the election.

It’s no wonder President-Elect Joe Biden is planning to have the entire place sprayed down with antiseptic and fumigated once the Orange Turdmeister has been evacuated. It’s for the good of everyone’s health, and the public good as well.

The entire country could use a political enema, for that matter. We’ve put up with this Trumpism shit long enough in America. It’s crude to say it that way, but sometimes the truth stinks. That’s the only way to get enough attention to set thing right.

Then we can all light a match in the bathroom of our existence, let the smoke cancel out the stench and then hit the hardware store to find a better brand of toilet bowl to handle the next round of shit from turds clogging up our democracy and the republic on which it stands. It’s beyond time to flush the falsehoods, the claims of Fake News and the fraud that has been stinking up the White House and this nation for four long years.

Cymbalism is hard at work in America


UNITED STATES – NOVEMBER 19: Rudolph Giuliani, attorney for President Donald Trump, conducts a news conference at the Republican National Committee, on lawsuits regarding the outcome of the 2020 presidential election on Thursday, November 19, 2020. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

Unless you live under a rock, you likely saw star witness Melissa Carone testifying at the Michigan election hearings at the behest of that crotch-grabbing, apelike fart machine known as Rudy Giuliani. To Trump Supporters, he’s the Great Ape of the GOP. To his detractors, he’s a sad little monkey banging conspiratorial cymbals (symbols) together in hopes of making a few bucks before his battery runs out.

Carone’s daftly aggressive, self-proclaimed expert testimony at the so-called hearings went viral because her seemingly drunken, completely unproven claims about results from that state’s election were so far-fetched even her hairdo could not seem to keep up with the madness. The crazies seemed to be spewing out the top of her cranium.

The United States is repeatedly plagued by drama of this nature. It is being driven by claims of Republicans (with and without hair) that the election was fixed. All these claims have proven pointless, false and outright scandalous in court. But they keep parading new monkeys in front of judges across the country. More cymbals. More clashes.

The reality show spectacle of modern day politics is a carnival side show highlighted by the GOP’s witless attraction to the hot mess world of blathering blondes and quasi-attractive female attack dogs who earn their keep saying things only the terminally ditzy dare utter in public. Sarah Palin turned out to be the rule, not the exception. They wanted to make her Vice President of the United States, but she sounded quite a bit like Melissa Carone at times.

But Carone takes the hapless blather to a new level. It is also no coincidence that the ecklessly bold hairstyle of Melissa Carone holds quite a parallel to the tragically coiffed visage of Donald Trump. But truth be told, he’s far more vain, drama-driven and idiotic than any female in history. His hairdo is symbolic of a desperate brand of vanity and a need for complimentary attention bordering on sociopathy.* He’s a freak, in other words.

The affectations of the terminally vain do matter. They legitimately warn us that appearances do matter. That is especially true when it comes to toxic personalities disguising themselves as credible human beings. The sight of Rudy Giuliani’s bad makeup job running down his face during a press conference is proof that he’s busy hiding something, and failing at it.It may be fear over his crumbling persona or his cymbal-clashing loyalty to his Monkey Master Donald Trump. In any case his appearance and behavior are a sickness of spirit on full display.

The fact that Trump’s supporters so easily dismiss these painfully obvious signals of disturbed minds is evidence of the tribal nature that an ugly jungle ethic has produced these days in America. The vigilante justice hiding just outside the Beltway is no more sophisticated or considerate than a band of murderous chimpanzees.

Are Trump supporters stupid? That’s not the right question. They are tribally devoted. They follow the orders of those in power. That’s far more dangerous than being stupid. That’s the militia mentality at work in America today. It is primal, racist, nationalistic and frankly, quite evil. And Trump loves it.

It is simply unacceptable to cheer on a being whose claims to authority are so base they represent a step backward in human evolution. We should never malign a beast so nobly earnest as the orangutan, and that is not the intention here. But when it comes to the lower instincts of primates in general, we have to consider both appearances and facts. Donald Trump appears to be functioning at a cognizance level just below human most of the time. He refuses to read even the most basic information assigned to his job. He denigrates medicine and science.

As a point of consideration about the face of this blunt trauma mentality, one of these photos is an image of an angry Donald Trump. The other is an apparently disturbed orangutan. See if you can honestly tell the difference?

The point we’re making here is that supporting Donald Trump constitutes a step back from what civilized people believe about human society. The display of sloppy rhetoric combined with primal gossip by Melissa Carone serves as a textbook example of cultural devolution. It’s hidden behind sex and ritualized behavior just like it is in nature, but the purposes are the same. It’s about gaining and keeping control over others.

Melissa Carone in her petulant monkey mode.

True to form, Carone behaved like a snotty little monkey at the zoo flinging shit against the windows to disturb the onlookers and get a reaction out of everyone. This is how Trump behaves as well. When he leaves, they’re going to have to hose down the insides of the windows at the White House. He’s been holed up flinging shit at the world for weeks now.

This is what we’ve been reduced to in America. It’s long past time to admit that Trumpian Zoo is a failed experiment in jungle despotism. He needs to be sent back to his own cage in Mar-A-Lago where he can carouse with the likes of Melania and Melissa and please himself openly without our having to put up with his lowbrow antics and greedy Banana Republic appeals.

Let the man have his grunting mates and a lacivious harem. That’s how he likes to live, and he has the right to do so. It’s just not what the Founding Fathers had in mind for a civilized nation like the United States of America.

*Sociopathy refers to a pattern of antisocial behaviors and attitudes, including manipulation, deceit, aggression, and a lack of empathy for others.

Losers prove their credulity in refusing to concede

Credulity: a tendency to be too ready to believe that something is real or true.

President Donald Trump apparently still believes he won the election. The conservative media outlet Newsmax relayed these beliefs in story published Tuesday, November 24. It states:

“President Donald Trump is vowing to “never concede,” the “most corrupt election in American political history”— despite the General Services Administration giving the go-ahead to Joe Biden to begin a transition to the White House.

Trump’s remarks came in a late Monday night tweet. He wrote: “What does GSA being allowed to preliminarily work with the Dems have to do with continuing to pursue our various cases on what will go down as the most corrupt election in American political history? We are moving full speed ahead. Will never concede to fake ballots & “Dominion.”

The Sulking Loser.

Clearly, Trump is hoping to paint himself as a heroic figure and a martyr in the face of his massive loss in the 2020 election. President-Elect Joe Biden earned exactly as many Electoral College votes in this year’s election as Trump achieved in 2016 while defeating Hillary Clinton. Trump branded that victory a “landslide” and claimed it as a mandate to do what he wanted with the nation, no matter what the laws governing his conduct and activities dictated to the contrary.

His supporters embraced the landslide mentality while crowing “elections have consequences,” never acknowledging the corrupt nature of Trump’s tactics either during the election or in the months or years to follow. His supporters were so eager to believe in their man as a political Messiah and a literal tool of God that Trump once claimed he could shoot people in the street and his supporters would not abandon him.

That’s not loyalty. That’s cult worship. All of it depends on credulity, the willingness to believe that everything that Trump says is true. In fact, so little truth has come from Trump or his administration the entire Republican Party has been forced to lie along with him or risk running afoul of his considerable ire. Political operatives at all levels and stripes have cowered as cowards while credulity swept over the nation.

The problem with credulity as a rule of thought is that it is so easily converted to fascist beliefs in the classic sense. That’s exactly what has transpired under the authoritarian rule of Donald Trump, the Con Man turned Strong Man.

Fascism (/ˈfæʃɪzəm/) is a form of far-right, authoritarian ultranationalism characterized by dictatorial power, forcible suppression of opposition and strong regimentation of society and of the economy which came to prominence in early 20th-century Europe.

Fascist Order.

Trump began his rule by embracing authoritarian leaders around the world. He repeatedly suggested that his own position bestowed dictatorial powers upon his person. He invited forcible suppression of his perceived opposition on many fronts, beginning with chants of “Lock Her Up” during his political campaigns. He is finishing now by trying to steal the election (while gaslighting the nation about it) from Joe Biden by attempting to overturn legitimate election results using lawyers, guns and money, whatever it takes. All those are taking the form of real threats. In Trump’s mind, the fear of losing justifies using any means to take power back from people he considers inferior to his own cabal. Amusingly, he promised to pack up and disappear if he lost the election. Well, he lost. But instead of leaving, he’s floating around in a toilet bowl of porcelain consternation while his orange face paint leaves skid marks on his legacy.

As for the strong regimentation of society, Donald Trump repeatedly Tweeted the words “Law and Order” all this year while encouraging police brutality and marching across a Washington street in the company of military leaders. All to hold a Bible aloft as if he is a warrior for God. As if, indeed. Trump is so un-Christlike there is no metaphor or allegory to draw a sufficient comparison.

And finally, let’s consider what Trump has done to the economy. Despite all claims to the contrary, Trump’s tax cuts massively benefitted the rich while leaving the middle class and poor wondering why their tax bills shot up the same year in which there was a supposed tax cut. The excuse: “Oh, well you had to let your accountant or employer know that you wanted more money taken out this year. In the long run, it will even out.” Thanks for telling us, asshole.

The Painted Pimp.

Then came Covid, and millions of people were thrown out of work in the wake of Trump’s patent denial that the pandemic was a threat at all in America. His credulity was revealed later in the year when journalist Bob Woodward published interviews with the President in which he openly admitted that the Coronavirus was a really ‘bad deal’ in terms of how it compared to annual flu and the like. Put plainly, Trump lied to the American people about the threat. He did so to avoid causing any sort of reaction that might upset the economy. That backfired when hospitals were overwhelmed as the pandemic swept across the nation and people started dying by the thousands. We’re now at 250,000 as the predicted peak season in the winter months is about to hit.

And what is Trump doing about the pandemic in the last days of his presidency? Nothing. He doesn’t care if more people die. If anything, he’s ignoring the fact of his massive failure to manage the pandemic all along.

Yet today, he did trot out to claim victory for the Dow Jones average reaching 30,000. Ironically, that performance is more of a response to the predicted stability brought about by Biden’s election victory.

Credulity reigns among Trump supporters.

But credulity still reigns in the minds of Trump and his supporters. They are so eager to believe that he could not lose, they increase their loser status with every new layer of denial.

The Urban Dictionary lays it all out in its definition for the word LOSER.

Loser A “loser” is someone who doesn’t know what they have and fucks it up.They are always making bad choices and fuck up their and everyone’s lives around them.

That is a perfect description of what the Trump era has done. Trump never knew what America is about in the first place. His Make America Great Again slogan was nothing more than anachronistic, nationalistic, racist beliefs wrapped in a security blanket of victimhood to which Trump grandly appealed with his downtalking manner and his phony-ass sympathy for the downtrodden.

King of the Losers. That is all.

He’s a fraud and the King of the Losers when it comes to understanding what it means to accept defeat with a degree of honesty and class. He makes losers out of all of us by persisting in his sociopathic game of vain heroics. The best thing that could happen for America is for Donald Trump and his family to face the fire of legal persecution for the emolument breaches, the grifting of government money, the corruption of post-election lies and the collusion between Trump and the long line of criminals associated with his sick rise to power.

And that includes the whorish evangelicals, the sycophantic GOP and the suburban women praying to God he’ll point them out in the crowd.

What GOP stands for these days

I looked up the history of the acronym GOP as a shorthand for the Republican Party. The Wikipedia page on the Republican Party says this:

“The term “Grand Old Party” is a traditional nickname for the Republican Party and the abbreviation “GOP” is a commonly used designation. The term originated in 1875 in the Congressional Record, referring to the party associated with the successful military defense of the Union as “this gallant old party”.

I’d always thought it stood for Grand Old Party, which is just as lame. But these days, the Republican Party is anything but Grand or Gallant. So the old terminology is moot. I propose that we give the GOP a new set of more accurate terms to replace its traditional claims to grandness or gallantry.

GOP and dying wishes

The option I propose, given the Republican Party’s tactics over the last fifteen years or so, is a far more accurate description of how the GOP operates. We’ll get to that in a moment.

But first, we need to understand the nature of the most recent hypocrisy. That is the installation of a third Supreme Court justice by decree of Donald Trump. We all recall how Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell self-righteously claimed that no President up for election within the year should be granted the right to nominate a Supreme Court judge. So McConnell blocked Merrick Garland’s nomination, only to invite Trump’s last-minute nomination of a constitutional originalist to replace the recently deceased Ruth Bader Ginsburg, whose dying wish was that her replacement would not be named until after the election.

The GOP has for decades been whining about so-called “activist judges” on the Supreme Court. Their concerns have focused on the idea that supposedly “liberal” justices are legislating “from the bench” by voting in favor of civil rights, economic parity, corporate responsibility and environmental justice in America rather than dragging the nation back to an interpretation of the United States Constitution before slavery was outlawed, women had the right to vote and America was a population of just 2.5M people. But here’s a fact that matters: The country is 130 times larger today according to the United States Census Bureau. We have fifty states, not just a few. We are a diverse nation thanks to immigration over dozens of decades and a couple centuries. The Constitution as it was originally written was never sufficient to cover all that change. The Founders knew that, which is why the power to commend Amendments to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights were implemented. To ignore that wisdom is to kick the Founder right in their constitutional nuts.

Yet that’s what some in the GOP love to do.

Changing America

The idea that America is the “same place” as it was 243 years ago is an example of the controlling, abusive notion that all the Amendments and beneficial changes in law and policy installed since that time are meaningless affectations adopted by a whimsically feckless population of liberals.

Ironically, this country would not even have the Second Amendment if things had stayed fixed in place as Constitutional originalists would have it. On that subject, perhaps they’re correct that amendments can be used for ill-suited purposes. After all, America does not seem capable of managing “A well-regulated militia, being necessary for the security of a free state…” Now we’re being gaslighted by vigilante militias and the GOP, both who claim to represent an originalist interpretation of the Second Amendment that ignores that opening phrase in favor of the latter, “…the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

That is the gaslighting tactic (a lie by selective judgment) upon which activist interpretations of the Second Amendment now depend. As a result, Americans are literally being gaslighted to death by rampant gun violence in the streets, doctrinally motivated mass shooters armed to the teeth, and self-professed militia members playing soldier while claiming self-defense.

Why do all these people deep-down claim to want to arm themselves? Many claim that their armory is to prevent the government from having too much power. Here’s a sobering fact: more Americans have died from gun violence on American soil than all the soldiers killed in wars on foreign soils.

That means we are being gaslighted by the idea that guns are the path to safety in America. The people who make that claim (through the NRA, and other bodies) form one of the GOP’s pet voting blocs. Some equate even the idea of personal freedom with gun rights.

Yes, our country had to fight for its freedom to gain liberty from the rule of England. Guns are useful tools in war. That’s what they were invented for. That’s why a well-regulated militia truly is necessary for the security of a free state.

But it is principles, not guns, that form the true foundations of freedom.

Liberalism and democracy

It was liberalism and the determination that America should be independent from the rule of a king that established the country in the first place. There is also the issue that the nation’s Founders recognized the danger of establishing or enforcing a state religion, so the Separation Clause was written specifically to avoid the rule of one religion over the country.

These days the Christian evangelical community persists in claiming that the United States of America is a “Christian nation,” founded on “Christian principles” and therefore subject to the directives of theocratic directives from whatever source they might be issued. This is another form of gaslighting, a way to “manipulate (someone) by psychological means into questioning their own sanity.”

Crazy times

These are crazy times we live in. To perpetually insist that something is true that is not true, especially by accusing those most affected by that untruth of being wrong, is psychological abuse. So is being a bully over every issue that confronts you. That is what the President of the United States does every single day of the year.

That is also the central tactic of the GOP these days. Choose any principle; be it racism, feminism, gay rights, environmental protection, even the rights of an individual in comparison to a corporation, and the GOP finds a way to flip those concerns around as a means to gaslight people into submission. Crazy times indeed.

Racism and the GOP

When it comes to racism, the GOP inherited the originally vicious views of Southern Democrats and turned into a voting bloc first exploited in dog-whistle fashion by the grandfatherly visage of President Ronald Reagan. The Southern Strategy persists through the era of President Donald Trump, whose open appeal to racists to gain votes for his re-election includes patronage and Retweets bragging that there are “good people” on both sides of the debate over civil rights in America. He doesn’t bother to explain what kinds of “good people” want to persecute blacks and send American citizens “back to Africa” or whatever racist taunt they choose to exhort, but Trump doesn’t care about such details. He is happy to gaslight principled citizens into questioning their own good judgment by wondering what the President means by describing angry white citizens as “good people.”

Blacks and police brutality

The scourge of police brutality toward black people in America is so longstanding and frequent that movements such as Black Lives Matter emerged to heighten awareness of the problem. But conservatives gaslighted the issue by pumping out alternative slogans such as Blue Lives Matter and All Lives Matter. Rather than address and acknowledge that 200+ years of racial suppression continues in this nation, the opponents of full civil rights for people of color selfishly claim persecution for themselves.This is gaslighting at its worst.

The GOP encourages this attitude of denial with its support of Trump and the specious slogan Make America Great Again. Those words are a dog-whistle act of gaslighting unto themselves. They insinuate that the advances in civil rights, environmental protection and religious equanimity established by the Constitution are illegitimate.

Constitutional originalism is gaslighting

Now the Senate has installed yet another constitutional originalist in the Supreme Court. This is an outright act of the sort of judicial activism against which the GOP has railed for decades. It is gaslighting in its most extreme political form.

That is what the GOP stands for these days: Gaslighting Over Principle.

We’re stuck with it for the time being, but there will come a moment in history when the tables turn again. That may come sooner or later. But gaslighting does win the day on November 3, the country as we’ve known it for 243 years will cease to exist, and we’ll all be subject to the violent instincts and abusive advances of a highly conflicted man and his dysfunctionally self-absorbed family.

That’s the choice we’re making on November the third. We can let ourselves be gaslighted into insanity, or we can stand against the GOP and its lying tactics, sycophantic whorishness and cloying lust for power, black eyes and all.

The lifelong lessons in the death of Herman Cain

“God loves irony.”

Herman Cain at a Trump rally, sans mask.

That’s what I wrote on a Facebook post in a group calling itself Christians Against Trump. A person in the group was objecting to people crowing about the passing of the conservative businessman and politician, Herman Cain, who died from Covid-19 after attending a Trump rally. He’d boasted about the refusal to wear a mask on his Twitter account.

Cain was making the bold claim that PEOPLE ARE FED UP with wearing masks, yet he’s now dead from contraction of the Coronavirus. One cannot be sure that he caught the deadly bug while sitting in the audience cheering on Trump. But the quid pro quo is compelling nonetheless.

Herman Cain also considered himself a mouthpiece for God. He connected his religion closely to his politics. During his campaign for President in 2012, he made a direct connection between his 9-9-9 tax proposal and his ardent belief in the Almighty. “If 10% is good enough for God,” Cain proclaimed, “9% ought to be good enough for the federal government.”

Scriptural warnings

Given these almost scriptural musings about the nature of life and government, one wonders if Cain understood the fuller meaning of scripture that warns us against putting the Lord our God to the test. (Matthew 4:7)

Going out in public without a mask during a worldwide pandemic seems to be a keen way to put the Lord to the test. Yet it is a popular meme with some religious folks. There is no escaping the fact that Herman Cain tested the power of his faith and it didn’t work out that well for him.

A common sense approach

That’s the problem with banking on religion to protect us from all kinds of evil. God still expects us to use common sense. The Book of Genesis starts out with a test of that sort to warn us against getting too cocky about the support of God in this world. Even after Adam and Eve are told not to take fruit from the Tree of Knowledge, they engage with a legalistic serpent who shows up with a promise that they can be like God, knowing good and evil, if they take matters into their own hands. “You surely will not die,” the Serpent promises them.

But a harsh lesson awaits. The Serpent’s promise is only good in the short term. The deceivingly religious Serpent has tricked Adam and Eve into thinking they have immunity from their own actions. Such is the case, it seems, with Herman Cain and millions of other religious believers who too easily neglect the lessons of their own scripture. While claiming to represent the Will of God, they eagerly take fate into their own hands.

The legacy of Herman Cain

There is more to the conflicted legacy of Herman Cain than his unfortunate death. HIs life as a businessman is depicted as a classic “up by the bootstraps” lesson about corporate perseverance. He rose through the ranks of several fast food companies to bring Godfather’s Pizza to renewed profitability. But when President Clinton pursued a plan to require employers to support health insurance for employees, Cain complained that plan would make it impossible for companies “like mine” to stay in business.

In a textbook example of conservative victimhood, Cain stated “For many, many businesses like mine, the cost of your plan will cause us to eliminate jobs. What will I tell those people whose jobs I will have to eliminate?”

Two bad choices

That tactic of offering up two seemingly bad choices to defend an ideological premise of conservatism under the banner of capitalism is a classic conservative ploy. What Cain refuses to consider or mention is why employers are even involved in the business of dispensing healthcare in the first place? Conservatives love to ignore such topics, leaving businesses across America responsible for the major headache of paying premiums and managing our healthcare system in the increasingly expensive triage of combatants vying for profitability. These are healthcare insurance companies, healthcare providers and networks, and Big Pharma. All of these lobbies want to protect their own interests, and corporate politicians gain big donations by doing so.

And the rest of America is left living a lie of bad choices. The United States barely ranks in the Top 40 worldwide in terms of quality and affordability of healthcare. So much for American exceptionalism. The fight against the Affordable Care Act was not about constitutional rights or Death Panels or any number of conflated reasons concocted by the Republican Party. It was about the selfish interests of all these profit-pursuing entities trying to slice pieces of meat from the other. And the GOP plays the role of butcher by trying to cut people out of the ranks of the covered.

Purposeful blindness

Herman Cain’s purposefully blind approach to resolving health care needs in America is the entire premise of the Republican Party’s non-plan to protect the health of everyday Americans. For decades, millions of people living outside the bubble of corporate-sponsored health care went without coverage. And worse, those with pre-existing conditions were essentially banned from pools of favorably-priced health insurance even if they tried to buy it on the open market.

The Republican approach to health insurance was, and remains, a death warrant for anyone who works for a man like Herman Cain. So we must ask, how does a supposedly God-fearing Christian man come to a place in life where he aggressively opposes the needs of people who work for him? It turns out scripture has something to say about that too.

Up-from-the-bootstraps

That “up-from-the-bootstraps” mentality favored by conservatives is more about selfishness than it is about solutions. It’s the “tough luck” school of thought that Jesus combatted in the religious authorities whose love of tradition moved them to invent laws and rules and restrictions that stood as stumbling blocks for those trying to reach out to God for spiritual sustenance. Instead it became a transactional religion run by people in positions of power and authority who got to call the shots, even to the point of sentencing people to death if they were accused of doing something wrong.

That’s the lifelong lesson of Herman Cain in a nutshell. His supposed love of personal responsibility was actually a politically dismissive ideal that cost him his own life in the end.

But as scripture tells us time and again, God loves irony. It teaches so many lessons.